In this View of Amsterdam, Rembrandt achieves an extraordinary amount of depth despite the very low horizon, by pushing the reeds and other plants growing along the canal and the footpath very prominently into the foreground while the city appears diminutively small in the far distance. In fact, the tallest blade of reeds is rendered in the same size as the tallest spire of the town, that of the Oude Kerk. It is a remarkably wide vista for a relatively small plate, which encompasses almost the entire city, albeit in the reverse. Eric Hinterding describes the recognisable landmarks from left to right: ‘the Haringspakkertoren, the Oude Kerk, the Montelbaanstoren, the warehouses and ships’ wharves of the Dutch East India Company and the mill on Het Rijzenhoofd bulwark.’ (Hinterding, Lugt Collection, no. 165, p. 284)
That the panorama is shown in reverse may indicate that Rembrandt drew it on the spot, directly onto the plate. Had he worked from a preparatory drawing, it seems plausible that he would have transferred the drawing onto the plate in order for it to print the right way round. According to some authors however, the fact that Rembrandt took some liberties with the actual topography contradicts this idea and indicates that he manipulated the view in the studio, rather than drawing outdoors onto the plate exactly what he saw.
Be that as it may, the View of Amsterdam from the Kadijk gives us an intense impression of the place. In particular, Rembrandt understood how important the sky was for the depiction of this flat landscape, and by leaving the upper two thirds of the plate entirely blank he was able to convey a sense of the vastness of the sky.
The present impression is equal to both the Malcolm and Cracherode impressions and only marginally weaker than the brilliant Slade impression in the British Museum.